My Fourth Ukulele

LONDON, UK: I’ve picked up the ukulele again, this time it seems that it might stick a little longer than in times past. The first time I purchased a ukulele was way back in 1999. It was a starter and like many of my purchases, it was a whimsical decision. I don’t recall the influence exactly. I was really into jazz, swing and lindy hop back then.

There was a great little place in the LES ran by two friends of mine, called The Piano Store. As you would guess, it was in the basement of a piano store. The weekly dancing and socializing was a huge part of a young subculture, a fun, sophisticated community which aspired to live out life from 1940s Manhattan through to 1960s Las Vegas. The dance was the center of this, with a small set of cocktail connoisseurs holding up the bar. I would like to think we were the one’s who started the current cocktail culture. In New York we certainly were.

It was on one fabulous night that Casey MacGill played at The Piano Store. The night had a feeling of 1920s speakeasy (before speakeasies were brought back into style), everyone decked out in their retro best, the dance floor smooth and the bar in tiki decor. Casey and his band were the real McCoy. My memory of Casey later that night, meeting him downstairs, drink in one hand and what looked like a beat up ukulele in another. Do not underestimate a beat up uke by the way, the age and styling were more simple in the 1920s and 1930s, but the sound hasn’t changed, and the price will attest to that. Continue reading “My Fourth Ukulele”

Coalhole Covers of Spitalfields

LONDON, UK: Anyone who happens to spend time walking the sidewalk (or pavement if you’re English) in or around London’s Brick Lane will stumble across a few intriguing coalhole covers, predecessors to the manhole. The cover’s motifs provide clues to past trades, people and the culture that once made up the area of Spitalfields.

Hammam: A ritual in bathing

ISTANBUL, TURKEY: With very few exceptions, I usually take a trip in January to start my year. This year’s birthday trip was to Istanbul, Turkey.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY: With very few exceptions, I usually take a trip in January to start my year. The first month is less about New Years for me as it is an actual new year. I am a January baby, born on the same day as Robert E. Lee, Dolly Parton, and Edgar Allen Poe. This year’s birthday trip was to Istanbul, Turkey.

Continue reading “Hammam: A ritual in bathing”

New Year, schmew year. Whatever.

Aside from actually taking my mother’s phone calls from time to time, I can’t seem to think of any resolutions for myself.

LONDON, UK: New Year, schmew year. Whatever. On day 4 of 2015 I thought I would take a few moments to post my 2 cents concerning the New Year and resolutions, and the holiday period in general. Continue reading “New Year, schmew year. Whatever.”

Blackpool: it’s as bad as its name

Can a place be as bad as its name? Well, sadly, and I really hate confirming this, but the answer is yes; Blackpool is such a place.

BLACKPOOL, UK: Can a place be as bad as its name? Well, sadly, and I really hate confirming this, but the answer is yes; Blackpool is such a place.

I had my doubts initially. The UK is full of odd places, places that I actually like which co-workers and flatmates say, “ooo, stay away from there!” I’ve been here long enough now to pick up on the prejudices, it must be a northwest sort of thing. Places like Liverpool, Wigan or Bolton, with accents that make those from the south of England cringe. When it came to Blackpool, I was intrigued. What sort of place is named Black – and then – pool? What is it like? Who lives here? What do they do? Just how did it come to be?

Continue reading “Blackpool: it’s as bad as its name”